I've Got Rights. You've Got Rights. Everyone Has Rights. And Then No One Has Rights
My recent column (http://www.notthepublicbroadcaster.com/the-usual-suspects/2016/5/10/9to4o31s72kk41wmaw7idj22s34jnx) on the transgendered bathroom debate provoked some predictable comment. Perhaps most telling: “What are you so worried about? There is no record of the transgendered assaulting people in bathrooms. Don’t transgendered people have rights too? In Europe, public washrooms are often unisex.”
This thinking embodies several of liberality’s most cherished notions, ones currently dominating the public debate, so let’s address them separately.
- “What are you so worried about?” Indeed. Why does the idea of a grown man still sporting his XY equipment in the presence of 10-year-old girls bug you uptight guys so much? Just because it’s been the custom and law for hundreds of years, don’t you understand that Justin Trudeau and Barack Obama can flip a cultural switch and change how everyone feels? Maybe it’s just, as some liberal researchers have suggested, conservatives have smaller brains that can’t handle the wonderfulness of inclusion. They can't see that this is progress.
- This missionary zeal prevails for those marinated within the Millennial bubble. In the era where seventeenth-place finishers are famously awarded trophies, the notion of value or worth has become a transitory concept. Rules are remnants of uptight white privilege. Results are ephemeral. What matters is how you felt about your effort. Results? Meh. So, a white person who feels black can become the head of an NAACP chapter. And call her brother her son. And be immune to criticism (http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/06/12/spokane-naacp-president-ethnicity-questions/71110110/?siteID=je6NUbpObpQ-U6ozXd_fbIUxsk1MYOIQ6A) A former Olympic gold medalist can identify as a woman, even though he’s still packing the calling cards of his former life. (http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/bruce-jenner-extreme-transformation-gallery-1.2033859). Or a sitting U.S. Senator could cite family lore about high cheekbones to claim Cherokee/ Delaware Indian status and qualify for a minority hiring at Harvard. (http://twitchy.com/loriz-3139/2012/05/15/fauxcahontas-warren-heralded-as-harvards-first-woman-of-color-hilarity-ensues/).
Hey, trading teams has made these people whole, and that’s all that counts, right? If you can’t lend a hand to the virtuous people then get out of the road. (But leave your cheque behind.)
The distressing part of this shape-shifting is that the generation now coming into its own holds this laissez-wear to be an eternal truth up there with “never eat at a restaurant called Mom’s”. As a parent of three I can say this generation of middle and upper-middle class kids has been raised as the kindest, most empathetic cohort ever. They feel other’s pain and endorse personal space. They’re polite and very deferential. "If a dude wants to use the other bathroom, how does that hurt humanity?"
The problem is that this uncritical approach makes them vulnerable to every progressive campfire crisis served up by current school curricula and the Hollywood re-education camps. From sexual-identity politics to climate-change orthodoxy to racial grievance they’ve eagerly swallowed the whole meal deal with a shrug. Which includes employing social-media shaming campaigns on anyone who doesn’t go along to get along.
Because the blowback from such policy decisions never invades their precious cocoons, the Millennial affection for sophistry won’t end soon.
2) “There is no record of the transgendered assaulting people in bathrooms.” Well, duh. The washroom-of-choice proposals from Obama and Trudeau are not yet law. Currently the sample size of trannies in the other bathroom is virtually nil. So how can there be any evidence of what will happen?
This faux-research is classic liberal bait-and-switch. The issue is not about the rights of Caitlyn Jenner to wee with the girls. It’s about the access that people who do wish harm on women can inflict using this empathetic cri de coeur for pan-sexual peeing. Better to make all washrooms unisex to help discourage such behaviours. But that would bury the tranny warriors’ story on Page 18, so you won’t see Trudeau or Obama backing that solution.
3) “Don’t transgendered people have rights too?” Yes, they are protected from discrimination on the basis of their “sexual identity”. But should that mean they (representing a few thousand Canadians) are entitled to impose their own version of reality on the far larger body politic? Prime minister Trudeau and president Obama, who have turned the fetishization of micro-minorities into a parlor game like Clue (Colonel Mustard in the bathroom with the cool kids) clearly think “Hell yes”.
The problem with unlimited rights— which is inculcated in education and culture from the earliest ages— is that, when everyone has rights to follow his/ her/ its yearnings, no one has rights. At some point they pile up on each other like cars is a Don Valley Parkway mash-up. Whose precious sensitivities do we address first? (Because everyone is scared stiff of radical Islam, it’s probably Muslims who are triaged first.)
In some cases these rights seem benign— like rights for sexual gender benders to visit whatever WC they fancy. In other cases it’s less smiley face, such as when devout Muslims choose to live under sharia, not common law. But once this bobsleigh is headed down the track there’s no stopping to consider other routes.
4) “And in Europe public washrooms are often unisex.” Having seen the dumpster fire that is contemporary European sexual politics since the tidal wave of Muslims came into their midst (http://www.dailywire.com/news/4921/germany-bans-ads-sexy-women-response-cologne-michael-qazvini), this is hardly the time to cite the Angela Merkels and Francois Hollandes as titans of the gender jumble. Let’s just say if they had to do the Islam intake again they’d do it very differently. So should we when it comes to dispensing rights like Pez candy.
Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy
Bruce's career is unmatched in Canada for its diversity and breadth of experience with successful stints in television, radio and print. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada's top television sports broadcaster, he is also the best-selling author of seven books. He was a featured columnist for the Calgary Herald (1998-2009) and the Globe & Mail (2009-2013).